We were able to catch up with Elisabeth Pring who is killing it in the gaming industry!
Elisabeth is from Anchorage, Alaska and started off working as a chemical process engineer and cannabis consultant and has over 8 years of experience in that industry. In that role, she helped legal cannabis companies with their laboratory and facility needs to keep their businesses compliant. Elisabeth is also extremely passionate about gaming. In 2020, she decided to shift her career focus more towards gaming and even got the opportunity to work Quality Assurance on the Xbox series X/S.
When asked about her future goals, Elisabeth said, "I see myself making a mark in the game industry while continuing to advocate for women in STEM. I want to tell the stories that haven’t been told and push a game into new development directions. I hope to lead a AAA project or one of my own one day. I also see myself building an educational platform through a game engine to make learning more accessible."
Keep reading to learn more about Elisabeth's journey!
What do you do currently?
I’m a chemical process engineer and cannabis consultant with over 8 years of experience. I help legal cannabis companies with their laboratory and facility needs to keep their businesses compliant. I educate companies on proper methods of hydrocarbon, Co2, EtOH, and molecular extraction. Last year in 2020 I decided to switch careers into another passion of mine, gaming! I had an amazing opportunity to work QA on the Xbox series X/S and I knew that this was the occupation I wanted to pursue full-time. I’m currently applying for my next game industry position and looking forward to my future development!
What did you do that prepared you for your jobs?
I really had to think about this question, because though there are tons of resources that have helped prepare me for where I am today, I’d say what prepared me the most was my drive and passion. I care deeply about improving the communities and world around me so that has helped tremendously on my journey. I told myself at fifteen that I was going to run a lab one day and by the age of 23, I became a lead extractor. My ambitions are aligned with my goals, so I research heavily on things I’m interested in. I’ve always had a desire to learn and understand how things work. For games it was easy because I’ve played them my entire life, so learning the development side of things has been incredibly challenging and rewarding. I also started following women in the STEM space which has been a great motivator for me because they share educational resources and tips that help you succeed in male-dominated fields. Seeing other women, especially BIPOC, in leadership positions has made me feel that I too had a place in STEM and could succeed by being authentically myself.
Did you always know you were going to do what you do now?
Absolutely not. My ambitions and goals have changed a lot through the years and though I feel they are aligned now, I constantly think of new ideas, and have tried pursuing many industries. I wanted to open a rock gym and a bakery, I pursued being a sous chef (and was for a short time), I wanted to play music professionally, I wanted to continue my passion for theatre, and many others! I’m proud of my diverse interests because they have made me who I am today.
What steps did you take to get in the career you are currently in?
I never gave up on myself. If I was struggling and didn’t know something, it was because I was growing and learning. It has taken me years to get to a point where I am confident in myself to solve any problem thrown at me, and I’m glad to be here now. I try to work on something daily to improve my self-development whether that be programming, world building, writing music, playing video games, or drawing. Small progress is any progress and I tell myself that daily. It has changed my outlook dramatically just knowing I have the capability to accomplish something if I just put some effort in, no matter how miniscule. I also embrace failure daily.
Without failure there is no innovation, so I put myself out there and try my best because one day I’ll get where I want to be. Failure is the best teacher.
We found it extremely interesting that you did quality assurance on Xbox consoles. What was that experience like? How were you able to get that opportunity?
I actually never thought I’d get that position. I just sent an email to a recruiter discussing my passion for video games, what I wanted to do, and how my previous experience could benefit them. They called me the next day and I was hired within three days, it was actually the fastest interview process I’ve ever gone through. That is definitely not the case now, but I feel so lucky to have spoken with the right people who could see my potential and previous experience as positive for them.
I was asked during my interview why I was applying for the position when I had extensive leadership and technical experience in a separate industry. It was quite the surprise, because it’s been the only time still to this day that someone saw past the industry specific skills and accepted my candidacy for what I have accomplished. I told them bluntly about my struggles in my previous industry, what I did to fix it, and that I am adaptable to learn anything necessary to succeed.
I was then asked to solve some problems, which I was absolutely not prepared for but luckily those gamer skills kicked in because I aced every single question. I was shown different slides and had to identify an issue, explain what is happening, how I would fix it, and then they would show me another slide. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe that entire time because I was so nervous I would mess up. When I started, I was only working in the office for about two weeks before Microsoft had mandatory COVID closures due to outbreaks in our lab and Washington State went into lockdown. I kind of panicked for a while because I had to do more technical duties working from home that I would otherwise not need to do if I was in office.
I felt for a while that I knew nothing and chose the wrong field but I stuck with it and learned something new every single day. I got myself to the point where I was tasked with training new employees on-boarding during COVID which was also difficult as my workload doubled but I learned even more by doing that. I was promoted within a few months of working which was really great as my work helped clear hefty bugs, I trained, and was always reliable when someone needed help. I had some really hard days but overall I was so thankful and happy to be working on something millions of people would be using, it really put things in perspective.
It also showed me how important everyone’s role is when developing those kind of projects, I worked with the most incredible team and I miss them dearly. Though the project is over, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will never forget.
If you had to pick your favorite gaming console which would it be?
This is such a difficult question! So many great consoles out there but if I had to choose based off most played games and time spent on console, I’d say my favorite console of all time is the PlayStation 2. I still have the one I grew up with and take it apart occasionally to keep it working. I love the nostalgic feeling of plugging in my memory card and the memories of playing games with my brothers. That was such a great time. Some of my favorite games I’ve ever played are on the PS2 and I still have my old disks which I will never get rid of. It’s one of the highest-selling consoles of all time for a reason.
I’m also biased, but the next-gen Xbox consoles (the series X/S) are incredible. I’ve been a hardcore Playstation fan my entire life, but after working with the next-gen Xbox consoles last year, I have to say I am impressed with the work and improvement Microsoft has put into powerful, affordable game systems.
If you had to pick your top 3 games of all time what would they be?
1. Kingdom Hearts - all time favorite game/series. I have never raged quit so many times in my life, cried, laughed, and genuinely loved a game/series so much. My life would not be the same without it. Plus, the soundtrack is arguably one of the best in the world.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - I have spent many months of my life playing this game and have no plans of stopping. This game was groundbreaking for me, everything about it is incredible (even with those notorious bugs) and I feel powerful when I play it. I am level 100 destruction mage so nothing gets in my way. It is a difficult build but worth it. I can’t wait for the next game.
3. Nier: Automata - Another Square Enix favorite, and yes, Square Enix is my favorite studio for obvious reasons. They continue push boundaries in the game industry with compelling stories, graphics, and overall performance. This game is a must-play. It is beautiful, as it questions what it means to be human and how we all live our lives. Through the gameplay are stories of love, abandonment, hate, regret, loyalty, and lust. It also has excellent boss fights and giant swords. The game is absolute perfection.
Did you find it difficult to get to where you are today? If so, what are some obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Yes, I think everyone has difficulty and obstacles they deal with in life. However, I think how we face problems is entirely up to us. I’d say the biggest obstacle for myself was changing my mindset because when you look at things as “difficult” you’re telling yourself that it’s too hard. I used to put myself down all the time and it didn’t help that a lot of my superiors were sexist, agist, and misogynistic as I worked in predominantly male industries.
I have always been the youngest woman put in leadership positions but when coworkers would find out my age, I would instantly lose respect. It was hard leading when people thought I wasn’t capable to do the job just because I was younger than them. I had men making decisions above me about machines and a laboratory I ran without ever touching or maintaining the machines themselves. They made million-dollar decisions about processes I developed and I was never involved in the meetings. I felt that I had to constantly prove myself to people that never appreciated me for my work or paid me what I’m worth. It took me so long to realize I was struggling deeply with imposter syndrome and that my accomplishments were worthy of respect. I had to look within myself to see how far I’ve come and what I have provided to my community. I now overcome obstacles by tackling them head on by asking for what I deserve, taking up space, and leading by example. Overall your biggest obstacle will always be yourself, so I work hard to make progress with my passions and work on my own terms.
For some people, gaming is seen as something that is “not for girls”, do you ever feel out of place? Do you ever feel that people doubt your abilities, and if so how do you respond to that?
I believe the girls and women in gaming narrative is changing in such a positive way though there is much work to be done. I still struggle being a woman in the gaming industry and have been threatened, imposed biases upon, and disrespected countless times by industry professionals. Men talk inappropriately to me when I play online and constantly doubt my abilities as a gamer. The best way to deal with that is land them a sweet headshot and smile. I have never felt out of place in the gaming space because I believe gaming is for everyone and we have fought hard to be here. Everyone has something valuable to offer and that is what makes the industry so exciting. No one can play like you, think like you, or pillage like you. We have stories to tell and XP to gain, we belong here.
What other hobbies/interests do you have? Any cool side projects you’re working on?
I have probably too many hobbies, so I’m always keeping myself busy. I love to play my flute and think about a musical score I’d create for a future game. I also love to bake as it brings me much joy. I’m currently working on character concept art for a future game development project as well as building up more practice with Unreal Engine. I love designing my own world and it’s been exciting to learn. I look forward to sharing my future work.
Where do you see your career going in the future?
I see myself making a mark in the game industry while continuing to advocate for women in STEM. I want to tell the stories that haven’t been told and push a game into new development directions. I hope to lead a AAA project or one of my own one day. I also see myself building an educational platform through a game engine to make learning more accessible.
What advice/words of wisdom would you give to any girl who is interested in going into the game dev space?
Trust in yourself and abilities because no one can create or think like you, so that is a huge advantage. No position in game development is more important than another as projects are collaborative. Everyone has an important role to play in creating a positive experience for gamers around the world, without strong collaboration video games would not be possible. Look at your favorite games to see what engines they use and figure out how they work, even on a basic level. Maybe there is a particular art style, combat style, musical score, or world you love…so dissect that interest and learn as much as you can. Figure out what you dislike and how you would do that differently to create something from that. Turn your interests, ambitions, and goals into an educational opportunity to learn about your passions. Try, fail, and try again.